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Back To School

Dear Ones, 

School started this week, or last week for most people. My children are mostly happy with that, though one going off to college is still off for another few days. And all of us are excited about the increase of traffic.

As you can imagine, I mostly loved school, all those new books and things to learn. But not everyone felt that way. My eighth grade year, we were gathered in the small cafeteria of the small Mississippi academy where 18 children was a big class, and one boy who still looked younger than the rest of us sat angry and red-eyed two seats away from everyone. 

Arnie (not his real name) did not want to be there, and it was a revelation to me. My family lived so far out of town that finally being near other kids and away from our garden and field chores was heaven, even in those middle years between childhood and teenaged freedoms. 

His family was not well off and broken in ways that were just becoming clear to the rest of us. He was not going to catch up physically for years, and he was going to rise above it all in those years; he knew it, and we knew it in the merciless way of kids. 

Schools become havens and hells for different children. I don’t recall interventions into our lives, but my family was stable and mostly not broken. These days our schools have become the front lines of our social issues from poverty to immigration, mental healthcare to gun violence. 

When we say we pray for teachers and students, we really mean it. They need our prayers, as do the staff members and administrators. None of these issues are easy, and mostly we don’t see them the way our schools do. 

Sunday I am going to have backpacks for students in need. We will have lists of school supplies, I invite you to fill a backpack with supplies and bring them back next week to give to those who could use a little lift from a stranger. 

For all the Arnies out there who suffered through school and for those whose families were not able to offer stability and wholeness, let us work do a small part to put a tool in the hands of our educators and schools.

It won’t replace the long hours and school supplies purchased from the teachers’ own pockets, but it will at least do a little to make school a little more haven than Hades. 

We will also bless the staff, teachers, and students present on Sunday and pray that their school year begins in hope and joy. 

Our Sunday School year begins on September 9, and the Rev. Tim Watt and Shana Halpin are working to get the pieces in place for our students. Thank you to those Sunday School teachers who met on Sunday to hear about Godly Play and those who care for our children here. 

Have a blessed week, and join us Sunday.